27 July 2006

Composition Arts

In a kind of déjà vu moment, two of my favorite blogs posted about the same thing, on the same day! The topic: How writing code is similar to writing prose. Christina Wodtke of Boxes and Arrows takes E.B. White's “List of Reminders," from The Elements of Style and compares them to web design. Matt Linderman of 37 Signals compares the stages of the writing process to that of software development. I think there's a lot to be learned with these comparisons. Without a full understanding of how construction or manufacturing actually occur, it's easy to compare software projects with construction projects. I think there's probably more similarity between writing software and writing prose than manufacturing or construction.

1 comment:

John Klepack said...

I'd say the line "But since writing is communication, clarity can only be a virtue" is the best parallel between prose and code.

Tricky code or prose is a great way to satisfy the ego (violating the first rule of "Place yourself in the background") but it's rarely needed or appreciated. Reader's/maintainer's certainly won't thank you and what seemed clever at the time usually has problems requiring you to rework it anyway